Trip Planner: Historic Golf of East Lothian
East Lothian is not a place to rush through while knocking off one or two "name" courses. The old links here are knit into the culture of the villages in which they are set, and meeting locals and making friends on the courses, on the streets, in the shops and in the pubs is an integral part of the pleasure. Settle in for a full week and enjoy yourself. Be sure to call ahead for a caddie at Muirfield, Dunbar, North Berwick West and Gullane Nos. 1 and 2, and leave time for a night or two in the ancient and staggeringly beautiful city of Edinburgh.
Where to Play
Dunbar Golf Club, East Links * * * * *
An Old Tom Morris masterpiece, classically situated between a seawall and the sea itself. Beware the beach on the back nine: It eats wayward slices all the way home. Architect: Tom Morris, 1850. Yardage: 6,404. Par: 71. Greens Fees: $99-$128. Contact: 011-44/1368-862-317, dunbar-golfclub.co.uk.
Gullane Golf Club, No. 1 * * * * *
A stunning collection of holes that play up, down and over the highest points of Gullane Hill and get progressively harder as one makes the circuit. Truly unique. Architect: Willie Park Sr., 1884. Yardage: 6,466. Par: 71. Greens Fees: $168-$197. Contact: 011-44/1620-842-255, gullanegolfclub.com.
Muirfield * * * * *
Apply at least a year in advance for an opportunity to play alongside members of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, the oldest golf club in the world. With the famous lunch and afternoon foursomes match, one of golf’s greatest days. Architects: Tom Morris, 1892; Harry Colt, 1925. Yardage: 6,673. Par: 70. Greens Fee: $286; guest play on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. Contact: 011-44/1620-842-123, muirfield.org.uk.
North Berwick Golf Club, West Links * * * * *
Elsewhere in this issue, Tom Doak cites it as one of his favorite links courses in the world. It’s easy to see why. Eighteen magical holes. Architect: David Strath, 1878. Yardage: 6,420. Par: 71. Greens Fees: $122-$158. Contact: 011-44/1620-892-135, north berwickgolfclub.com.
Gullane Golf Club, No. 2 * * * *
The holes are largely as good as those at Gullane No. 1, but because they don’t venture so high on the hill, the views aren’t quite as dramatic. Nonetheless, a must play. Architect: Willie Park Jr., 1898. Yardage: 6,244. Par: 71. Greens Fees: $79-$89. Contact: 011-44/1620-842-255, gullane golfclub.com.
Kilspindie Golf Club * * * *
A quintessentially Scottish and unpretentious links. Although very short, it has narrow holes and can be quite a test when the wind is blowing off adjacent Aberlady Bay. Perfect for a carry-your-bag round. Architects: Alex Mackenzie Ross/Ben Sayers, 1867; Willie Park Jr., 1897; James Braid, 1927. Yardage: 5,502. Par: 69. Greens Fees: $67-$85. Contact: 011-44/1875-870-358, golfeastlothian.com.